City Gallery of Fine Arts, Plovdiv

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This lovely gallery is situated in a cobbled street uphill from the city centre, and when you pass these gates you can feel a wave of calm while walking up the stairs to the entrance.

Me and my dear friend were the only people inside the gallery and it was nice having the whole space to ourselves, to roam around in silence.

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The gallery has three floors of exhibition space and it displays mostly paintings and sculptures.

Here are some of my favourite pieces.

 

Museum of Totalitarian Art, Sofia

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While researching museum offerings in Sofia, I read some great reviews of this museum and decided to pay a visit, especially because it is so specific and unusual.

Already in the courtyard it felt like I was entering a land of towering concrete and bronze figures from a bygone era, but it  somehow seemed familiar as well.

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A pair of Lenins

Inner part of the museum provided a much needed cooling down from the hot Bulgarian sun. The exhibition space is rather cohesive, showcasing totalitarian art through different themes and art techniques.

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Some of my favourite were black-and-white paintings of suffering.

Not only were there artworks expressing what life was under these regimes, but there was also historic video footage in the little separate building that is used as the gift shop. The footage showed Sofia during the communist regime.

I highly recommend visiting this museum, it was one of my favourite in Sofia.

 

 

Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin

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One of the coolest museums in Berlin, so vast I regularly get lost in its hallways.

The building, as its name would suggest, used to serve as one of the oldest train stations in Germany. It was built in 1846 and it is the only train station in Berlin remaining from that time. Because of increasing traffic, it had to close its doors in 1884. Now it serves as the Museum for Contemporary Art.

It currently displays my favourite exhibitions in all of Berlin, and I highly recommend you to visit, because not only will you be enchanted by the art, but by the building itself, especially the grand hall.

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Walking around I stumbled upon some famous names: Warhol, Rauschenberg and Lichtenstein.

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Another great exhibition is the retrospective of German sculptor Rudolf Belling. It displays about 80 items from 1920s to 1960s. His work ranged from stage and costume design all the way to fountains and monuments. What comes across in his work is the use of empty space as a compositional element.

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Another brilliant exhibition currently on is called Moving is in every direction. It traces the history of installation art from the 1960s until today. It is not setup chronologically so it is a full surprise as you walk from one exhibition room to another. I have captured some of my personal highlights.

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Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin

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Museum of Prints and Drawings is the largest of its kind in Germany. Current exhibition shows works from Maria Sibylla Merian, who was a naturalist and scientific illustrator from the second half of the 17th century.

There are plenty of lovely flower illustrations and ugly bugs to look at. If you like this type of illustration, it’s worth to have a walk around, and you can learn more about its historical development.

Bröhan-Museum, Berlin

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Bröhan-Museum is also known as the art deco museum. Besides the lovely collection of art deco and art nouveau pieces, ranging from furniture to decorative vases, on its first floor you can currently see a retrospective of works by the Dutch artist Jan Toorop.

Although he is rather an unknown artist outside his native country, this exhibition is most definitely worth visiting, and not only for the impressive 200 works on display, but because the range of materials and art techniques he used to create his art are so wonderful to look at and admire from the other side of the glass, or even whilst you’re looking at your own reflection in the mirrors he created.

His work in this retrospective includes drawings, pastels, paintings, ceramics, glass, poster and book cover design; just to name a few. It is such an inspiring and dreamy exhibition. My particular favourites were drawings the lines of which extend onto the frames that he also created.

Some of the works from the exhibition include:

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The last floor of the building showcases an exhibition of music posters by Günther Kieser. Considering all of them were done without using any computer tool to modify the images, they are pretty amazing. Two of my favourites were:

The admission is free every first Wednesday of the month and Toorop exhibition is open until May 21 so be sure to visit!

Ephraim-Palais, Berlin

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Ephraim-Palais is called the most beautiful corner in Berlin. It is one of the few old buildings saved from the destructions of the war. Its current exhibition is about the forming and the growth of the city of Berlin, but more particularly about its castle that is being rebuilt and which will become a cultural centre and will host the vast collection of the Dahlem ethnographic museums in the future.

Learning about Berlin’s history past the point of the Berlin Wall and WWII is always so interesting. We rarely think about what was happening with the city in its beginnings and how it became a metropolis. The exhibition is shown on 3 floors and covers the historic period from the first castle being built in the area of today’s Berlin.

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Each floor has elaborate models of the city in different periods. This one shows Berlin in the 17th century.

It is an exhibition worth visiting if you like history and if you like Berlin, and lavish castles.

Kunstbibliothek, Berlin

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Kunstbibliothek is one of the museums at Kulturforum. They regularly have interesting small scale exhibitions. The latest one displays Chinese poster and book design.

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It is usually very quiet as there are not that many visitors so you can spend your time in deep contemplation over poster design without being distracted with commotion around you.

The most poignant poster I’ve ever seen about global warming blew my mind when I made the connection in my brain.

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Some of the other beautifully designed posters include a play on Magritte:

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and more traditional elements of Chinese culture:

 

The exhibition is open until May 28th.

Deutsche Bank Kunsthalle, Berlin

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Kunsthalle is currently exhibiting Artist of the year 2017, Kemang Wa Lehulere, and his work named Bird song. Lehulere is one of the most important representatives of South African artists of the new generation. His work is shown through different media which he uses to create narratives and political commentary. The birds symbolize freedom that is suppressed and fought for, and the voices of those who have been silenced.

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It is not only his work that is on display. The exhibition is intertwined with the artwork of another South African artist, long forgotten Gladys Mgudlandlu, who used to be called Bird Lady because of the numerous paintings of birds she did.

The biggest piece in the exhibition is Broken Wing, where crutches hang from the ceiling in wing formation. Between the crutches there are sets of teeth that were made based on imprints of artist’s teeth, and they are pressed in Bibles in the language of the Xhosa tribe. It is a reaction to former colonial conditions.

The piece is very haunting and beautifully displayed. Thanks to Kunsthalle we get to see art from all around the world and connect to human stories and perspectives of life in a way I never dreamed possible.

The entrance is free every Monday so go check it out.

Berlinische Galerie

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The second coolest art gallery in Berlin. Usually there are several exhibitions happening at the same time. The latest ones are female art prize winners. It was lovely to see the gentle nature of female paintings compared to a crazy exhibition of installations by John Bock. Most of his pieces didn’t make much sense to me, but there were some cool ideas of construction that I appreciated.

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The retrospective of Cornelia Schleime shows works from the 1980s until today. The exhibition covers photographs, drawings and paintings. I was quite moved by her female portraits, the colour palette and softness of the creatures in her art.

 

Another artist whose work was mesmerising because of the beautiful vivid colours she used was Tatjana Doll.

 

The biggest piece in the exhibition space was taken over by work from Emilio Vedova, who transformed his paintings into architectural forms called Absurd Berlin journal ’64.

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The upper part of the gallery holds a wonderful permanent exhibition of 20th century Berlin art, but that’s a topic for a whole other post.

Museum of Photography, Berlin

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Current exhibitions in one of the best museums in Berlin deal with the theme of surveillance. Three exhibitions are content-coordinated with each other and include historic and present artistic positions on the subject. All of them raise the question of importance of privacy and preservation of our basic human rights.

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This exhibition illustrates the reactions of contemporary artists to the present practices of surveillance and control. Through 10 different aspects and views of surveillance, artists challenge the visitors’ perspective. It was rather daunting to see how far the surveillance goes and who collects all of our information we send out to the world. It is as if privacy has become the most precious currency in the modern era.

One of the most chilling parts of the exhibition were the photos of the spying system that went on in East Germany during GDR times.

Besides the current exhibitions, museum is definitely worth a visit for the Helmut Newton collection and changing exhibitions of his work.

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